Scripps to close campus and go fully online for fall semester

Scripps will not allow students back on campus this fall due rising coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County. (Mabel Lui • The Student Life)

Scripps College will close its campus and go fully online for the fall semester, administrators announced Wednesday morning. The school plans bring students back to campus in spring 2021.

“As we planned for the return to campus, we have continued to monitor the current public health situation in Los Angeles County, which over the last couple of weeks has worsened dramatically,” Scripps president Lara Tiedens said in a letter to the community. “Upon a sober examination of the environment, the college has arrived at the following decision.”

Tiedens cited feedback from students who remained on campus in spring 2020 in making their decision. 

“Confining students to their rooms with limited social interaction is isolating, stressful, and not conducive to their academic success or mental and emotional well-being,” she said. “The farther our plans for an in-person semester progressed, the more apparent it became that public health imperatives would preclude the residential experience we aspire to deliver.”

Students have until July 31 to tell the college whether they plan to enroll at Scripps this fall. Continuing students can take a leave of absence at any time for up to two semesters, according to Scripps’ website.

Tuition for the 2020-21 academic year will stay at 2019-20 levels, according to Scripps’ website. It’s unclear whether tuition will be reduced given that all classes are now being held online.

Students on financial aid will still receive a $4,164 food allowance, equal to the cost of a 16-meal a week plan for the semester, according to an email Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson sent to students Wednesday morning. However, financial aid packages will not automatically include a housing allowance since some students will live at home. 

Students who do not have housing for the fall can apply for rent assistance, she said. Approved students will receive up to $4,979 for the semester, and the funds will be included in their financial aid package.

Laptops and other technology assistance will also be available to students, Johnson said.

As for athletics, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps previously decided not to participate in sports that are deemed high-risk: basketball, football, soccer, water polo and volleyball. It’s still determining whether low-risk fall and winter sports (cross country, golf, swim and dive and tennis) will be able to go forward, according to Johnson.

However, like all other students, athletes will not be allowed to live on campus regardless of whether their team is practicing or competing, Johnson said.

Johnson said she knows some students may have been planning to live in Claremont for the upcoming semester and stressed that students will have no physical access to campus.

“Scripps will not be responsible for providing food or any medical services/medical monitoring beyond those provided by [Student Health Services] to an off-campus Claremont College student who tests positive for coronavirus,” she said.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to find their own isolation space, as it will not be provided by the college, according to Johnson. She emphasized that this policy applies to CMS athletes as well.

There are no policy changes for taking a leave of absence at this time, according to Scripps’ website. Incoming and transfer students have the option of deferring admission to the spring semester. 

The news comes on the heels of a memo from Immigrations and Custom Enforcement that requires international students on F-1 visas to leave the U.S. if taking “a full online course load.” Affected first-years who have not yet been granted their F-1 visas will not be eligible to receive them and thus no longer have means of entering the U.S. 

Tiedens did not address how the decision would impact international students in her announcement. However, Johnson said the school is “exploring ways to support our international students as we review the entire set of regulations and determine what they will require of the college in terms of compliance.”

Scripps’ website also tells international students who are or will be on an F-1 student visa to confer with Scripps’ Designated School Official before deciding to take a leave of absence.

As for classes, returning students who are already registered will stay registered in those classes, according to Scripps’ website. However, class times have been adjusted. 

For the colleges that will have in-person classes, the method in which the class will be taught — in-person or online — will be announced by the end of July, the website says. Re-registration will open for seniors Aug. 4, juniors Aug. 5 and sophomores Aug. 6.

The Claremont Colleges will offer telehealth/online medical and counseling services to students who live in California through Campus.Health, Johnson’s email said. Due to California licensing laws, Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services cannot offer support to students outside of the state.

Students are still expected to have health insurance for the entire academic year. The Claremont undergraduate colleges have contracted with Aetna insurance to provide a Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), according to Scripps’ website. Students living outside the U.S. for fall semester can elect SHIP but will not be required to do so if they can provide proof of medical insurance in their home country. 

Pomona College also announced it would not bring students back to campus for the fall semester Wednesday morning. 

Harvey Mudd College plans to bring its students back in a hybrid format if conditions are safe and Los Angeles County permits. Claremont McKenna College is making similar plans but has delayed its final decision until July 24 at the latest. Pitzer College likewise delayed announcing any final decision until later this month.

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